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About Abuse

Information for Teens

December 29, 2015

Checklist: Am I being abused?

Many people don't recognize that they are in an abusive relationship. They don't realize how they have gradually changed because of the abuse.

Are you a victim of dating violence? Answer the questions below. If you answer yes to even one of them, you may be in an abusive relationship, or your relationship is likely to become abusive. Abuse isn't just hitting. It's yelling, threatening, name-calling, saying things like, "I'll kill myself if you leave me," obsessive phone calling, emailing, IMing or texting, and extreme possessiveness.

Does your boyfriend/girlfriend:

  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
  • Act jealous or possessive?
  • Put you down or criticize you?
  • Try to control where you go, what you wear or what you do?
  • Text or IM you excessively?
  • Blame you for the hurtful things s/he says or does?
  • Threaten to kill or hurt you or himself/herself if you leave him/her?
  • Try to stop you from seeing or talking to friends and family?
  • Try to force you to have sexual contact before you're ready?
  • Do s/he hit, slap, push or kick you?

What might happen to me if I'm in an abusive relationship?

Possible effects of being in an abusive relationship include:

  • loss of appetite;
  • headaches;
  • nervousness;
  • weight loss;
  • bruises or broken bones;
  • sadness;
  • self-blame;
  • confusion;
  • anxiety;
  • guilt;
  • shame;
  • mistrust of self;
  • mistrust of others;
  • depression;
  • fear;
  • feelings of worthlessness;
  • terror;
  • permanent injury;
  • death;
  • suicide. 

Note: Our Danger Assessment page lists certain abusive behaviors, which indicate that a victim is at a greater risk of being seriously injured or killed by an abuser.

Should I tell an adult? Can't I just handle this on my own?

Talking about problems within your relationship or sharing the fact that someone is abusing you is never easy, especially when you're talking to an adult. It's normal to want to solve your problems on your own or with your friends. It's normal to not want to get anyone "in trouble," including the person abusing you. If you are the friend of someone being abused, it's normal not to want to betray your friend's trust by revealing the abuse to an adult.

Sometimes, however, there are problems that are too big to handle without help, and it can be a big relief to involve a trusted adult. The advocates at loveisrespect.org can help you figure out when you should talk to an adult, who you should talk to, and what to say.

How do I end the relationship?

Unfortunately, leaving an abusive relationship does not mean that the danger has ended.  Sometimes, you may need to involve the legal system such as the police or the courts.  For example, you may be able to get a restraining order from civil court (without involving the police) to keep your abusive boyfriend or girlfriend away from you.  In some situations, the abusive person may even have to switch schools in order to follow the terms of the restraining order.  You can read more about how a restraining order can help you on our Restraining Orders page - just enter your state in the drop-down menu to read information that is specific to your state.  In some states, your parent or guardian may have to file the order for you - in other states, you can file it on your own. 

Also, the website loveisrespect.org has some tips on how to break up safely and things to think about when ending an abusive relationship.

My boyfriend/girlfriend is writing mean things on my Facebook page. What should I do?

Many people have profiles on Facebook or other websites and use these social networking sites to stay connected to friends, post pictures and share information. If you are in an abusive relationship, the abuser may be using your Facebook page in harmful ways against you. S/he may be stalking you, using your password to log in as you and post messages, or writing mean or harmful things on your “wall.”  S/he may also be spreading pictures or hurtful comments about you to others by using Facebook or other social networking sites. It may be a good idea to deactivate your account for awhile until you feel safe again, but if you plan on staying on Facebook or other sites, go to our Safety with Social Media page for information on what steps you can take.